Background Screening on a Global Basis

June 1, 2007
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Businesses are only as good as the people who run them. The right people with the right skills at the helm can help a company flourish. Conversely, poor – or uninformed – hiring decisions can cost a company not only financially, but also have a negative impact on the organization’s reputation with stakeholders. Apply this principle globally and you have a whole new set of issues to consider each one with the potential to have an exponentially greater impact.


WHAT DOES THE COMPANY NEED?

Determine what your company needs and wants from global background screening. Do you want to ensure there is fluid, global mobility of qualified and vetted talent? Are you trying to mitigate financial and reputation risk? Is your goal to comply with industry regulations? Understanding the organizational objectives behind a background screening initiative will enable you to find the ideal partner and program.


WHAT ARE THE CULTURAL DIFFERENCES?

Understand the culture and business environment in each country. Consider the acceptance and perception of background screening programs. Although they are becoming more widely accepted, unique cultural characteristics exist and must be respected.


WHAT ARE THE COUNTRY’S REGULATIONS?

Fully understand the regulatory environment in each country. Each country has its own privacy and data security regulations, and several regions have created regional privacy laws. In addition, some countries have unclear or no regulations at all. Constitutional laws differ across countries as well. It is critical to determine what combination of policies should be followed. The safest move is to always assume a conservative approach to data privacy and security. Legal counsel should be a critical part of this step.


WHO SHOULD BE INVOLVED?

Engage key participants from the beginning. Hire and involve in-country human resources, security, compliance and legal teams before rolling out a background screening program. Also enlist support and advice from local work councils or trade unions, as well as regulators.




WHAT ARE THE BEST PRACTICES?

Consider best practices: Look at other companies in your industry and discuss with background screening vendor companies. Ask questions about your potential employee. What are best practices by industry, by type of associate, by country and by regulations?


WHAT ARE THE POLICIES?

Establish clear company policies and procedures with respect to a global background screening program. Elements should include reasons for the program, all aspects of the program, disclosure, data privacy, data security and comprehensive communications about these policies.


WHAT KIND OF SCREENING SHOULD BE USED?

Companies are able to customize their background screening packages according to level and responsibility. For example, hiring an executive level position should entail three previous employments, two or three references, highest level education verification, professional license, identity verification, criminal record check, reputation media check and a global watch list check.


WHAT TO DO WITH THE DATA COLLECTED?

Gather detailed candidate information and education and use it to determine what type of data is legally permissible to be collected. Identify how the data will be collected, how it will be used and what rules are in place for transferring data across borders. It is also important to know what the rules are for discarding the information. Some countries require data to be used for permissible purpose within 72 hours of collecting it, while other countries do not have set timeline.


HOW DO I GET CANDIDATE CONSENT?

Ensure candidate consent by always getting a signed candidate consent form and provide proper disclosure. Acquiring candidate consent will not always be easy, so it is critical to maintain enough flexibility to accommodate the unique aspects of each culture. In Brazil, for example, requiring a drug or alcohol test from applicants is not always possible. Due to regulations, applicants can refuse to submit to drug tests and the company may be forced to accept the refusal.


WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH THE CANDIDATE’S INFORMATION?

Treat the candidate information with respect to privacy and data security standards and regulations. By using respect for the individual and their information as a guiding principle, you will always serve the candidate and the organization well. Always double check your results and treat candidate’s information with confidentiality and respect. Not doing so may cause the information to fall into the wrong hands.


HOW TO IMPROVE THE PROCEDURE?

Conduct ongoing performance improvements; it is critical when going “live” to ensure strong quality assurance during the first several dozen background screens. Once the program is well established, set up a time-based review of metrics to ensure that aspects of the program are within the accepted parameters of turnaround time, quality, accuracy, cost and any other elements.  

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